Hiroko Komiya, raised near Tokyo, Japan, gave this reflection at the annual program held Aug. 7 at the entry road to the nuclear weapons parts plant in KC MO.
Thank you to PeaceWorks Kansas City for inviting me back today, and thanks to everyone here for supporting this important cause.
August 6 and 9 are days we remember the victims of the atomic bombs. We take this time to recommit ourselves to World Peace and a world without nuclear weapons.
As you know, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings claimed the lives of at least 200,000 civilians, including children. But the victims and tragedies didn’t stop there.
I am here to share my childhood story again. I was born and raised in Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo. When I was in 4th grade, I had a best friend called Yuko, whose mother was very ill. One day, she whispered that she wouldn’t get married when she grows up. She continued, “Did you know my mom was in Hiroshima? That’s why she has leukemia. And I will get it someday because I am her child. And my child will get it, too. We have bad blood.”
A few days later, her mother died and Yuko moved away to live with her grandparents. When Yuko and her father stopped by to say goodbye, I was so sad and so angry that I couldn’t come out of my room to see her. I was devastated as a 4th grade child. But Yuko was a courageous little girl who faced her cruel, unjust reality and accepted her ill-fated future at the age of 10.
According to studies, leukemia was just the first cancer to be associated with exposure to atomic bomb radiation. My friend and her mother were just among the first.
The immediate death of over 200,000 was sadly just the beginning. Yuko was just one of many. Generational trauma and the spread of cancer and other illnesses continue to bring death and devastation. During the Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima yesterday, it was announced that there were 4,978 names newly added to the book of Hiroshima victims list this year.
This is why I am here with you today to tell my story and voice my heartfelt belief.
For the sake of this skinny little girl, my best friend, Yuko, for all the victims, and for the sake of our children and future generations of humanity, I protest against the production of nuclear weapons!
Today marks 77 years since Japan learned the horrors of atomic bombs. Unfortunately, there are over 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. And the Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised the fear of nuclear weapons to a level not seen since the end of the war.
It’s time to abolish nuclear weapons before it’s too late!
Mrs. Keiko Baker, who was here last year to deliver her humble but powerful speech, couldn’t be here today due to the extreme summer weather. In her speech, she shared her experience of two nuclear bombings: the first one in Nagasaki in 1945, and the 2nd one for nuclear testing near Hawaii about twenty years later. Then, she developed thyroid problems. In 1974, she had a surgery to remove her thyroid caused by the nuclear fallout she experienced.
Today, Mrs. Baker says she is very afraid that the war in Ukraine may escalate into a nuclear disaster. If you remember, she made a remarkable statement last year:
“The bomb was made by humans, dropped by humans, and suffered by humans, and that is no way to resolve conflict. It is an utter devastation of precious human lives. It is my wish that we never use an inhuman weapon like this ever again, anywhere on this earth.”
Mrs. Baker asked me to send you her best wishes to everyone here and expresses her deep gratitude for your support for this important cause.